The night before
So after all the messing around last week with wheels, tyres and inner tubes I decided to call in the A-team and went to my Time Trialling sensei Bill Seddon on Friday night to finally get my wheels sorted. He employed a magical method and in no time at all the tyres were on my new carbon rims, inflated and bunged in the back of the car as I headed back to South Wingfield. On arrival home I put the bike on the stand, put the wheels and new brake pads on and admired their beauty, slight issue with the wheels catching but I’d sort that in the morning ready for a test run before making my way to Hull.
I’d been a little downbeat after Wednesday but there were mitigating circumstances which I detailed on my last post and as Saturday morning came, with the prospect of setting off 3 minutes behind the 2012 Tour de France and 2014 world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins I was like a kid on Christmas morning. After my mum had picked my little boy up for the day it was time to get myself sorted. I’d need to set off around 11:45 to give me plenty of time to get to Hull, get setup, and be ready for my 16:33 start time. First things first, adjust brake pads so the wheels can actually turn, fairly straight forward task, took me about 15 minutes, I then got changed into my skin suit to give the bike a test run. I did about 4 miles in total, riding up and down Holme Lane. Wheels felt good, brakes worked fine, but if felt pretty windy. When you’re running deep section rims they can be susceptible to the wind, it would have been nice to have raced on them previously before barrelling my way down a dual carriageway in pursuit of a quick time, but I wasn’t unduly worried. So as 11:30 arrived, the bike and kit including my old wheels as a backup were loaded in the car, petrol tank filled, car tyres pumped up, a few snacks purchased and off I went.
I didn’t really know where I was going, but essentially, M1, M18 and then M62, the journey itself quite simple as I put the car in cruise control and made the 75 mile journey up norf. The closer I got to my destination the windier it seemed to get, slightly concerning for me, slightly more annoying for Wiggins who’s be targeting Alex Dowsett’s current 10 mile time trial record of 17m 20s. As I headed towards the HQ I felt pretty hungry but thankfully I noticed a chip shop so thought I’d get something from there, hardly the best pre-race meal but with 3 hours to go it’d have time to settle. Having parked the car, I walked back down the road to find it had closed, the 2 shops on the same road didn’t really have anything I fancied so I drove back to the garage and managed to find a ham salad cob with no mayo on, some frazzles and made my way back to the HQ to try and spot Wiggins signing in. Although his team car was there, slightly more flashy than my Astra estate, he’d left signing in duties to his management team so he could focus on getting ready, quite understandable.
Wiggins Team Car
I spotted a few of my club mates arriving, Mike Garvey first, then my arch rival Craig Devonshire, he’d travelled up with Mark Bridgman-Smith (MBS) and then also Dave Johnson who was having another attempt on this course. I’d also spotted a few other local time trialists Alex Deck looking great in her Langsett Cycles kit and two of her team mates Chris and Karen Ledger. The Ledgers had apparently thought I was Simon Travell (B&DCC club mate), although quite why this was I didn’t know. I’m 6ft with a shaved head, Simon is about 5 foot 2 with heels on and has ginger hair and sideburns! Not sure what happened there, not his sideburns but with the mistaken identify! Anyhoo, back to business, the course itself has a code, each course in the country has a code, it goes back to the days when racing was done in secret so rather than say where it is, riders knew the course by code to avoid the rozzers. This course is the “V718” or the “V” as it’s known in time trialling circles. The course is recognised as the fastest in the country, (hence why Wiggins was here), mainly due to the amount of traffic that will pass you, the course is also run on a dual carriageway. This had made me a little nervous but actually due to the fact there are no give way junctions for people to pull out into you, it makes it quite safe, well as safe as it can be when you’re doing between 25 and 40mph with only 22mm of rubber connecting you to the road.
With Bradley Wiggins racing, there was a real buzz around the HQ, a quick explanation of how I’m managing to compete against him…. As mentioned the V718 is a fast course, people want to race here to get a fast time, hence the events are massively popular and preference is given to the fastest riders, this being only my 5th race my PB at this point was 22m 48s so I’m not really in that bracket (yet…). So to help with this, City of Hull Road Club put on this event which gives preference to riders with a PB of 22 minutes and over, Wiggins not having set a time in the last 3 years therefore became eligible. Surprisingly the event was not filled with riders over 22 minutes and there were approximately 25 riders who’d gone quicker than that who got a place. My aim though was to set a good time and hopefully be high up in my category. The faster guys are CAT A, I’d be in CAT B.
Due to a wonky lamppost the race was delayed by 30 minutes and then to 45 minutes, meaning I’d now be off around 5.15pm, no bother. To pass the time I’d had a bit of banter with my club mates and spent some time relaxing listening to Talk Sport in the car watching other riders doing their warm-ups, some more scientific than others. But as the clock ticked down Craig rolled up to my car to set off on his warm up, he was starting 15 minutes before me, I wished him good luck (genuinely, although I want to beat him, I still hope he does well). With about 45 minutes to go before my start time, I began my final prep of caffeine gel, rubbed extra amounts of muscle warmer on my shaved legs, ate half a banana and had a good swag of water before I set off up the road to get warmed up. The start is about 4 miles from the HQ so it’s quite good for doing a warm up and then getting to the start ready, trouble was I wasn’t too sure where I was going, I had a good idea but when you have anxiety your mind can play tricks. I decided to go back to the car, I knew this would still give me time to get back to the start so I used the time wisely to have another drink and then to stop my mouth drying out I had some skittles, I don’t imagine Wiggo was doing any of this.
As I turned onto the dual carriageway (DC) to head towards what I was 80% sure was the start a rider with 71 on his back passed me, was I on the finish bit?? Luckily no and I made my way down the DC to the off ramp. WOW!! The crowds were massive, at Cuckney you have a time keeper and someone to hold you in position, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say there were about 300+ people and a mass of cars all waiting to get a glimpse of the champ. It was a little daunting inching my way down the side of the road but then I spotted Wiggo, he looked every inch the champion he is, resplendent in his white skin suit and gold helmet. Everyone wanted a picture, it was selfie madness as people jostled for position, but for me I just wanted to see him and then focus on my race. I joined the queue behind him and then off he went, it was like he was fired from a cannon as he blasted off from the start to massive cheers from the crowd. The crowds then dissipated, a few people bumped into my bike which I wasn’t pleased about but I sucked the remaining juice from the skittles and approached the start line.
With the familiar countdown, 5,4,3,2,1 I set off, purposely not exploding out the blocks, I immediately had to take avoiding action as there was a bit of traffic chaos but it didn’t hinder me as I brought my Canyon Speedmax AL 8.0 up to speed. And what speed it was, before I knew it I was doing over 30mph and finding a nice rhythm. I knew the wind would be behind me on the 5 mile out leg, but consequently that meant I’d be battling it for 5 miles on the way back. It was pretty much accepted that it was a slow day, Wiggo would most likely not be beating the record. As I pushed on down the DC I really focused on my position, the new wheels felt great and no twinges in my calf (I’d rested totally since Wednesday so let’s not dwell on that today) as I kept checking my power output. I wanted to keep it around 260-265W, certainly not 280W as I’d done for the first few miles at Cuckney, I wanted to be strong for the final 5 miles in my quest for a new PB. The crowds were amazing, people cheering from the bridges and laybys, they’d come for Wiggo but they gave all the riders encouragement which I know we all appreciated.
Race day picture courtesy of Kimroy Photography
Although focussing on my own race as I glanced right momentarily I could see Wiggins coming up the opposite side of the DC, no time to admire him, push on Murph! Push on I did as I approached the off ramp, no idea what to expect, well that’s not strictly true, Bill had given us all some guidance beforehand, but I’d forgotten all of it by now!! Off ramp negotiated, lots of marshals’ and arrows in place and cheered on by the crowds I went around one turn, dodged the pot hole and then right again to make my way down the on ramp for the final 5 miles.
The master at work, I’m talking about Brian Hall with the camera, Wiggins also looks good.
The run for home
I knew I was going well, I’d reached the turn in under 10 minutes averaging 263W, 30.7mph in lay man’s terms, but I knew the really hard bit was to come, 5 miles into a headwind. I immediately felt the wind, this made me focus on getting as aero as possible and with my minute man insight up the road I dug in. I was catching him slowly, but I was a little nervous moving out with traffic coming up but move out I did and then really gritted my teeth. My mouth was drying but with only 4 miles to go I knew the suffering would be over in less than 10 minutes so despite my legs beginning to burn I gave it my all on the uphill section, desperate to set a good time I glanced at the elapsed time, I was going well but there was still work to be done.
Battling the wind, the slight uphill gradient and my tiring legs there was only a mile to go, I spotted what looked like the finish (I should have looked at the mileage I’d done), and pedalled really hard to really empty the tanks. The clock at this point was still reading 20minutes, it’d be a struggle to break 21 but that’s what I focused on. I misjudged the finish line slightly but managed to hold on as my Garmin ticked over the 21 minute mark, my official time was 21 minutes and 7 seconds, a new PB by 1m 41s, initially frustrated that I’d not gone under 21 that soon passed and I was really pleased with my time. I’d done the home leg in about eleven and half minutes, averaging 270W or 26.6mph which I was really happy with. I’d executed my race as I planned, hold a bit back on the way out, finish strongly, mission accomplished.
Back to HQ
The 4 miles or so back to HQ gave me chance to have a proper cool down, as I rode up the DC I caught up with Wiggo’s minute man Andy Birdsall, he’d had a lot of publicity this week, he seemed ok with what he’d done today and I just continued on my way back to base. As I approached I couldn’t see my car, I had a momentary panic that it’d been stolen but thankfully there it was, right where I’d left it. I popped the boot and sat down, took a big drink of water and looked at the crowds gathering outside the HQ. Andy then pulled up to massive applause from his club mates, good on ya mate you earned it. My mind shifted to how I’d done, how had Craig done? I’d soon know as he rolled up beside my car.
Unlike Wednesday he looked a bit deflated, but not quite as deflated as his rear tyre. He’d suffered a puncture with about 2 miles to go, thankfully for him he was on tubulars so whilst it hampered his race, he managed to keep above 24mph and get to the finish, the clinchers I run wouldn’t have afforded me that luxury, it’d be game over. I’m sure it’ll happen but today I had a good race. He’d still done a good time, 22:17, happy that he beaten the fastest lady by 1 second!
I got changed and made my way inside the HQ, Wiggins although anonymous at the start had promised to make a visit at the end, I wanted to see him, after all this was unlikely to happen again. Being one of the later riders off a lot of the times had been entered on the board, including Wiggins who’d done 17:58, outside the record but still a great time in the conditions. As I scanned up and down the leader board I began to get a little excited, the more I looked the more I couldn’t see anyone under my time of 21 minutes and 7 seconds (apart from Wiggins), I’d obviously gone well! The Ledgers were looking at the scoreboard, Karen had gone well, she’d taken 2nd place in the women’s comp in 22:30. Chris asked me my time, “21:06 I think” was my reply, “you’re 2nd” he said, wow I was amazed. Wiggo has been put in the CAT A and so far there was only one other CAT B who was quicker than me, I’d also beaten Chris who finished in 21:16 which was a real scalp to take. As I hung around, there was some movement outside, Wiggins was here.
As he came into the room he looked a little uneasy as he handed in his race number, this was surreal. As he handed in his sheet I actually began clapping, thankfully everyone else followed and he acknowledged the support before going over to get a cup of tea. People were genuinely in awe of him. I try not to have sporting heroes, invariably they let you down but today I was in the presence of a true superstar and sporting icon and fired off a few pictures. Wiggo then preceded to give an interview to the local press before accepting the win, he didn’t take the cash though, he gave that back to the organiser, he hardly needs it.
The best bit though was that he spent as long as it took for everyone to get autographs and pictures, at this point he was fast becoming a hero to me. He was down to earth, one of us, my respect sky rocketed as I decided to try and get a picture with my new hero. I gave my camera to someone else to take the picture, now I’m not sure what decade this woman had teleported in from but I feared the worse when it was clear she was fumbling. Picture taken eventually and as I shook Wiggo’s hand I inspected the shot. Naturally it was crap and blurred, I could have killed her, but the memories would remain for ever. What a day it’d been, I’d set a new PB, was most likely to be in the prizes and I’d met and competed against a Tour de France winner and current world time trialling champion, not your average Saturday!!
It is Wiggo, honest!!
Final results and stats. – https://www.strava.com/activities/305840005
Whilst initially thinking I’d come 7th, my final position would be 11th overall, not bad from 164 starters. But although not confirmed yet I think I’ve got 3rd in my category which should mean some prize money! Coming 11th overall meant I’d also beaten a large number of the 26 CAT A’s as well, this was really encouraging. The feeling was that Wiggo had the form to beat 17:20 today, the wind though had beaten him, so the course was slower than normal, this gave me even more reason to be pleased with my time. The nightmare in Cuckney now banished.
B&DCC rider times, slightly out as this is Strava segment not official times:
Comparing Chris Ledger and myself, as you can see at the turn we were level:
Today is Tuesday and I’m hoping to ride at the Matlock Cycling Club 10 this evening, failing that it’ll be more turbo work in readiness for the 3UP Time Trial in Newark on the 28th May. Things are looking good.